On Tithes and Offerings

The Scribes, Priests, and Pharisees of Yeshua's day were not shy about asking for money. They praised the people for giving money and gave special honor to those who gave large gifts ( Matt. 6:2).

In Matthew 6:2-3 Yeshua taught strongly against the concept of honoring those who give on the basis of the SIZE of the gift. It is sad that many in the religious world still have the attitude condemned by Messiah. They continue to beg from the pulpit, radio, and T.V. for more and more money. Many suggest or demand that G*d wants far more than 10%, or that giving to some particular ministry will OBLIGATE G*d to bless the giver.

There is much confusion and ignorance about this very practical area of service to Ha Shem. It is our aim to present a biblical overview of giving, and have our thinking on the matter available for your carefull consideration.

What is Tithing?

The Hebrew word for tithe is ma'asrah. It means the tenth part. The Greek words DEKATOO and APODEKATOO also mean 1/10th. Genesis 14:20 shows that the 10% tithe pre-dates the Law of Moses.

In both Avraham's and Moshe's times the tithe (10%) was the basic amount a person who was protected by the superior party of a blood covenant was to return to the protector.

The tithes paid were 10% of the increase which came as a result of the work a person did to provide for themselves and their family. "Thus all the tithe of the land, or of the fruit of the trees is the L*rd's; it is holy to the L*rd." ( Leviticus 27:30)

The L*rd required that 10% of one's increase, the result of his or her efforts to provide for the needs of the family, were to be given to the L*rd, since the L*rd was the superior of a covenant between Himself and the descendents of Avraham.

How Do I Relate To Tithes and Offerings?

We have a new covenant with G*d by means of the blood of Yeshua, the Messiah. The confidence we place in the Almighty One of Israel is the basis of our acceptability to G*d. If those who were only under the Covenant of Avraham gave tithes to their covenant protector, it seems only reasonable for those of us who are also under the Covenant sealed in the blood of Yeshua to give tithes to G*d.

Where Should I Give My Tithes?

Under the Covenant of Moses, people gave to the Levites, or priests, who ministered to the L*rd on their behalf.

The practical application of the principle is that you should give your tithe in that place where you have your primary spiritual allegiance, where you are fed spiritually, where you are prayed for, where you are sustained, comforted, and supported.

Question: My Spouse Does Not Attend Services and Objects to My Tithing - What Should I Do?

The fact that the spouse objects to tithing indicates that the spouse either has yet to experience the benefits of the covenant of the Messiah, or is ignorant of what the Word of G*d says about the matter. We are far more concerned with the spiritual welfare of your spouse than we are about receiving money from you. Please do not make tithing to Messiah Assembly an issue of family warfare. Follow after that which works for peace and harmony in your family.

Please do not press the issue. Please do not take anything we do or say about tithing or finances and give your spouse or any member of your family any reason to suspect that we are trying to extract money which they are reluctant to give from them.

We only want tithes and offerings given to Messiah Assembly from a willing, cheerful, and open heart before the L*rd.

Should I Give Tithes From My Welfare Checks, Child Support Payments, Food Stamps, Etc.?

Please do not give them to Messiah Assembly! Tithes are given from the results of your labor. We do not want anyone to feel ashamed of receiving public or private assistance to meet the necessities of life.

Farmers were required to leave the corners of their fields for the poor to harvest under the law of Moses. The covenants of G*d have always made provisions for food and shelter to be provided for those who were not able to work to meet those needs. The Levites were careful to insure that NO tithes or offerings were given to the temple from such a source.

When anyone receives ANY funds or goods which they did not labor for, and those funds are provided for the express purpose of maintaining the essentials and necessities of life, NO tithes should be given. This principle holds true, whether those funds are received from a public source or from a private individual.

Should I Tithe Off My Gross or Net Income?

There was no such thing as income tax withholding in Bible times. People tithed off the gross.

We do not see that an exact legalistic rule can be set down. We encourage people who have a history of having problems coming up with enough to pay the IRS year after year to tithe off the net, and then tithe off of any refund if they receive one.

If you tithe off the gross, and get a refund, tha refund is money that has already been tithed on. Give an offering from that if you want to, but not a tithe.

What is the Difference Between Tithes and Offerings?

A tithe is 10%. It is given as a deliberate act of worship, of what a person has received from their work. Less than 10% is an offering, not a tithe. More than 10% is a tithe plus an offering.

A tithe should be a grateful presentation given as realization of the covenant relationship between you and G*d. A tithe should be given out of a sense of deep and profound appreciation for what G*d has done for us, not because we fear doom and disaster if we do not give.

An offering may be given for any number of reasons. But it is an offering, not a tithe, if it is not given as a portion of wages returned to G*d through giving to a local congregation of believers.

Is It Okay to Split My Tithe Up Among Several Ministries Who Do Good Work?

If you are doing that, you are giving several offerings, not a tithe. A tithe should go where you are being sustained and nurtured and assisted to grow in the L*rd. It is theft if I go eat at Burger King and then go pay at McDonald's. If the place where a believer regularly attends is not feeding and sustaining a person, they should seriously seek to find a place that will.

It is wonderful to support missionaries, missions, and good works that are outside of the local body. Those support efforts should be offerings above what is given to the local body of which we are members, and with which we identify.

I Attend the Services of Messiah Assembly and Those of a "Sunday" Church - Where Should I Tithe?

We do, from time to time, have people who attend both our services and go elsewhere. Some people take time to adjust to our very different way of doing things. We try to give them plenty of time to adjust to the culture shock, especially those people who have spent most of their life in a "Sunday-Go-To-Meeting" Cultural Setting. This is our request to those people concerning their tithes - Please do not split your tithe between us and another place. Figure out and decide where your primary loyalty is, where you are most comforted and sustained in the L*rd, and act accordingly.

We are very sensative to one thing: We do not want to be guilty of taking the tithes which belong elsewhere. We would rather err on the other side of that issue if we err in any way at all.

If you attended a "Sunday church" before you began attending Messiah Assembly, still go there, and have strong emotional ties there, then that is probably where you should tithe. If so, give them the whole tithe. Please do not put us in the position of inadvertantly or unknowingly receiving the tithes that belong elsewhere! If you desire to support us as well, please let it be an offering above your tithe.

Why Do You Not Take an Offering During Services?

We want those who tithe or give offering to Messiah Assembly to do so because they consider us to be a proper conduit for them to give offerings to the L*rd through a sense of a strong covenant tie with Him.

We want to discourage the common attitude that tithes and offerings should be performance oriented. Whether a person gives or not should never depend on how good the sermon was or what Rabbi preached about.

We prefer the Jewish cultural way of doing it - having envelopes available for people to make out their tithes or offerings when they get paid, and then mailing them to the office. Under the Law of Moses, money was not carried or exchanged on the Sabbath. People did noy take tithes or offerings with them to a Synagogue Shabbot service. People DID take tithes and offerings with them to the temple, but only when they were going to the temple at some time other than on the Sabbath or Holiday.

We do respect the cultural backgrounds of all of our members, whether thay are Jewish or Gentile. We have an offering box in the back for the convenience of those who desire, because of their own cultural backgrounds or sensativities, to bring an offering to service.

Some General Observations About Tithing and Congregation Finances

Contrary to statements made about Messianic Congregations in general, and us specifically on certain "Anti-Messianic" web sites, we do not receive ANY financing from any Christian congregation, organization, or mission board. Messiah Assembly is totally and completely supported by the members who attend Messiah Assembly. The Rabbi of Messiah Assembly still works at a secular job. We do not say this by way of complaint, for the members of Messiah Assembly are wonderfully generous in their liberality. We will say that any description of a Messianic Congregation being "Generously Financed by Christian Denominations" does not fit us!

The fact that we do not take a public offering does not mean that we take the tithes and offerings given by members of Messiah Assembly lightly or for granted. We are very thankful for the generosity of those who attend. We thank G*d for your generosity and liberality. We pray for your finances. We agonize and hurt, and pray fervently for those who we know to be struggling financially.

We are determined not to go into debt as a congregation. We will not take out a loan to buy property or finance a building. We will not take on any financial obligation until we see a consistent flow of enough money to give the congregation the reasonable expectation of meeting all obligations involved.

We want to avoid the possibility of being tempted to plead with the congregation for more money, to be constantly asking people to bail us out of some spot we have got ourselves into.

We will not, as a congregation, ask for special discounts, free things, and donations from businesses and/or individuals in the general community. If those things are offered without any stimulus from us, we will accept them, but we NEVER ask.

We do not consider it ethical or acceptable for a youth group or any other auxillary organization attached to Messiah Asembly to hold a garage sale, bake sale, car wash, or other activity to raise money from the public while attaching the name of the congregation to that activity. It is considered a proper thing for a youth group to hold a free car wash, refuse all donations, and to tell people that they are doing it for the love of the Messiah.

A Final Note of Importance: This position statement is not meant to be a condemnation of any group who does things differently. Please do not take this position paper and use it as a weapon against another organization. This statement of OUR understanding about tithes and offerings is not meant to be a club or weapon to be used against any religious organization which does things differently. We will answer to G*d for the way we apply our understanding of the scriptures and congregational function within the areas of finances, and they will answer to G*d for their application of the knowledge they possess.

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